Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Head of the Class - Hungarian Potato Bread

The everyday breads of Eastern and Central Europe have certain notable characteristics. Firstly, they are usually quite dense in texture and also sturdy. By that I mean they are 'designed' to hold smoked meats and cheeses, to absorb mustard and other condiments, to be chewy and just a little sour. Secondly, they are also known for using ingredients as fillers (because often regular ingredients were not available). Like potatoes, for instance. When you think about it, mashed, white potatoes are really just starch , very much like AP white flour. So... let's say you don't have very much flour and you do have lots of potatoes. What do you think we could do in this situation?

This bread exists in various guises all over Eastern Europe. Sometimes with caraway seeds, sometimes with butter. But always with potatoes making up some of the starch needed for the dough. This particular loaf, comes from Hungary, but like I said, it is really a generic loaf that can be found in one form or another all over Europe. Like tomato sauce in Italy sort of... A million variations.

Text for this post, (for printing without the photos), can be found here

Here's What You Need: (for 2 loaves)

about 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
700 g (25 oz) AP flour
300 g (10 oz) whole wheat flour
40 g (1.25 oz) salt about 4 tsp.
60 g (2 oz) butter, cubed (or margarine or vegetable oil)
20 g instant dry yeast (slightly less than 2 Tbs.)
1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional) or
about 200 g (6.5 oz) sharp cheese

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Boil the potatoes in water until very soft (but not dissolved). Drain the potatoes reserving the cooking water for use in the bread. Set aside to cool.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flours with the salt and butter and the yeast.

Add this mixture to the cooled potatoes. Finally, add about 330 ml (11 oz) of cooking water to the mixture and combine to for a smooth dough. Adjust the flour and water accordingly to make sure the dough is smooth and only very slightly tacky. If adding the caraway seeds, now is the time to knead them into the dough.

3. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm location to rise. It should about double in volume in about 1.5 hours.

4. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, form each piece into a round ball without removing too much of the air, then cover to let it rest for another half hour.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 F (about 190 C). Just before baking, slash the bread 2 or 3 times to allow for even 'oven spring', i.e., so the bread rises in the oven evenly.

5. Spray water into the oven to add steam, then bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 F (180 C) and continue baking for another 25 minutes or so until the bread is deeply browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Jó étvágyat!  (Hungarian for Bon Appetit - Google translate!)
Text for this post, (for printing without the photos), can be found here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Direction - Healthy Artisan Loaf

As I mentioned on my last post, (posted too long ago), I have started moving in a new direction, sort of. I am re-writing and adapting ideas I get from other recipes and using them as a basis for new recipes. I am creating my own recipes based on ideas I have on how ingredients should work together. The idea is that good bread should be healthy, of course, but also look great, and btw, it should taste great. This bread I am posting today, is one of those breads. The recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart's 'Roasted Three-Seed Bread', in his seminal book, Brother Juniper's Bread Book. If you don't own it, btw, you should. Plain and simple.

To the base recipe I have added some enhancements. The original uses only white flour; I have replaced one-third with whole wheat to increase the fiber, etc. Also, I have added 2 Tbs. of both chickpea flour (softens the crumb and adds a nice yellow color) and 2 Tbs. of soy flour (increased protein content). The dough was allowed to rise in a bowl covered with a floured cloth, them baked on a stone for 35 minutes at 400 F. It looks and tastes incredible! I hope you like it.

A word. I have not posted as much as I should lately mostly because my business has been taking off. Over the holidays, I have been teaching workshops all over the area. I have been to Modi'in (about 25 miles away from Jerusalem) twice. I taught at a workshop at a home for mentally challenged women in Mevasseret (a suburb just outside the city). I catered a Bat Mitzvah party, and delivered orders for cakes, pies, quiches and of course, lots and lots of bread. So, I am glad to say that the reason is a good one. Still I promise to try and find time for it all, of course, including breadmanTalking!!  If you have been following for a while, you know that this is my goal, a viable baking business, so it's all good. I'll write again soon, I promise.

Here's What You'll Need:
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
4 cups bread flour, or AP flour, or 3 cups white flour and about 1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 Tbs. instant dry yeast
1 Tbs. salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup buttermilk (or soy milk to avoid dairy)
about 1 3/4 cups water
2 Tbs. soy flour
2 Tbs. chickpea flour

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Lightly toast the seeds on a dry skillet for a few minutes. Remove the seeds from the skillet when done since they continue to roast on the hot pan.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients, including the seeds, in a large bowl, stirring to evenly distribute.

3. Add the buttermilk (or soy milk, if using), then the honey, and finally the water, adding just enough to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead vigorously for about minutes, until the dough is smooth and the gluten is well developed.

4. Place the dough in a lightly-greased bowl, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours to rise until doubled.

5. Gently remove the dough, from the bowl and place in a basket, lined with a generously floured cloth to continue rising. Make sure the dough stays covered so it doesn't dry out.

6. In the meantime, heat the oven to 400 F (195 C). Finally, place the dough on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper directly on a baking stone. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the crust is very firm and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

7. Enjoy!